BELFAST, Northern Ireland, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- A plan for financial and welfare reform in Northern Ireland was agreed upon Tuesday after an 11-week deadlock and a marathon negotiating session.
The plan includes a 2 billion pound ($3.1 billion) offer of financial assistance to the Northern Ireland government from the British government to alleviate the impact of welfare cuts. A deadlock between political parties in Northern Ireland included discussion of issues regarding parades, the flying of flags and other historical matters from the country's ethnic and nationalist conflicts of the latter half of the 20th century. A 30-hour bargaining session, with Christmas as a deadline, led to the agreement.
The plan to restructure the country's welfare program was endorsed by leaders of the Northern Ireland First and Sinn Fein parties. Ulster Unionist Party, SDLP and Alliance party leaders expressed disappointment.